What: Shares of the clinical-stage biotech Geron Corp. (NASDAQ:GERN) rose by as much as 20% today on sky-high volume after the company announced the publication of two papers in the The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) highlighting the potentially disease-modifying ability of its telomerase inhibitor imetelstat in essential thrombocythemia (ET) and myelofibrosis (MF).
In a midstage study for MF, for example, the therapy led to some form of response in every patient receiving imetelstat, with several experiencing complete hematological responses. The papers were published online this morning via the journal's website, according to the company.
So what: Incyte and Novartis' Jakafi is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of myelofibrosis. While this drug is effective at alleviating symptoms resulting from the disease and improving overall survival, it's never led to complete hematological remissions. Imetelstat could thus become a major step forward in the treatment of this devastating blood-based disorder.
Now what: Although the NEJM is a marquee medical journal, the fact is that these results were already known for the most part via the company's prior presentations at the last two American Society of Hematology meetings. So I'm not sure this huge upswing in share price is entirely warranted.
Looking ahead, the real catalysts to be on the lookout for are the preliminary results from imetelstat's ongoing trial for relapsed/refractory myelofibrosis, and the start of the therapy's planned midstage trial in myelodysplastic syndromes. Both of these trials are being conducted by Geron's partner Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.